Maite Woköck • Producer, Telescope Animation

– The German representative at Producers on the Move talks to us about the status of animation cinema in her country’s market

This article is available in French.

In 2018, Maite Woköck founded the production company Telescope animation, with the filmmaker Reza Memari. Since then, she has produced several feature films and series all intended for a young audience. Among the latest projects are Richard the stork [+lire aussi :
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and Petronella Applewitch. Currently in production are two features, My Fairy Troublemaker, based on an original by Woköck itself, and The last whale singer by Memari, partner of Woköck. We spoke to Woköck on the occasion of his participation in Promotion of European cinemaof Producers on the move.

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Cineuropa: How did you specialize in animation?
Maite Woköck
: At first, it was a coincidence. I trained as a playwright for children’s films 15 years ago. After that, I was looking for a production company that would produce children’s films. I then ended up with a company specializing in animated films for children. In the meantime, I have been working in animation for 14 years. And I am very happy with it, because the animation offers many visual and narrative possibilities.

How does the search for a production partner work?
I have built a relatively large network over the past few years. But we also present new projects at animation conferences. These are co-production markets like Cut to movie, in Bordeaux, the APD (Animation Productions Days) in Stuttgart, which takes place during the Animation Film Festival, and for series you can Comic book forum. You meet a lot of new people at events like this.

Most of the films you produce are co-productions with other countries. What are the advantages, but also the disadvantages, of international collaboration?
The budgets for animated films are very high. They are still over € 7 million and I am currently working on a € 9 million project. You don’t get that much money from just one European country, so you need co-productions. But it’s also great, because we never produce animated films just for the domestic market. We always produce in English and always for the whole world. So when you have the whole world as your market, it’s an advantage if multiple countries have a say from the start. The downsides are that the financing takes that much longer. The main producing country must start and only the other countries can continue. The financing time and also the uncertainty are greater, because it is not known exactly if all countries will be able to finance.

Can the producer’s work also be done digitally? Or is it important to organize festivals or other events for a personal exchange?
At the moment, there is no problem if we do not have a personal exchange. The animation film projects being very long-term, I do not look every year for new partners for the co-producers. For the projects that are currently in funding, I have my co-producers, but for the new projects, it would be good to be able to have the personal exchange again. These locations also exist online, but at an event you get to know people differently. You could be introduced to someone or have a glass of wine together and that’s how you talk. This aspect is very lacking and cannot be digitally replaced.

How do you find your projects?
It varies. For example, with My Fairy Troublemaker, the original idea was mine. I then developed the project with a screenwriter. I co-founded Telescope Animation with the writer and the director Reza Memari. The idea of The last whale singer came from him. Then, we are also offered writers’ projects or we find something on a pitching forum that we want to develop.

Can you focus on just one production at a time or is it possible to supervise multiple projects at once?
I always have several projects at the same time. The production period of an animation lasts two years, and during this time I have to develop several projects. Some projects are currently being funded and others are under development.

How is the German animation market behaving or developing? Are there more co-productions with specific countries than with others? on the horizon?
Overall, I have the impression that the German animation market is growing. It is the most successful segment of German cinema abroad. Audiences in Germany are not really increasing, however. Some films, for example, only have 200,000 to 250,000 viewers in Germany, while they then reach 700,000 viewers in France. In Europe, a lot of animation is produced in Belgium and the Benelux in general, as well as in France, Canada or the Netherlands.

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